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The Media Were Right on Cue

RSVP / Into the Night

October 29, 1997|MARK EHRMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Century City went mad with celebrities, VIPs and paparazzi Monday night for the premiere at the Cineplex Odeon of the new Constantin Costa-Gavras film, "Mad City," starring Dustin Hoffman, John Travolta, Mia Kirshner and Alan Alda. This is a film with a message, and the message is the media, or "the paparazzification of the media," as Costa-Gavras describes this hostage drama about a TV reporter (Hoffman) who makes the news happen at the same time he reports it. The throng then made its way to Chasen's.

Who Was There: Costa-Gavras, Travolta (with wife Kelly Preston), Hoffman and Kirshner were there, along with the producer, Arnold Kopelson. Also spotted were Sean Penn, Charlize Theron, Sinbad, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jackie Collins and, holding up the music industry's end, Carole Bayer-Sager, David Foster and Olivia Newton-John.

Chow: Along Came Mary catered a pre-Thanksgiving buffet of carved turkey with yams, gravy and stuffing along with scallops, sausages and ravioli. The dessert buffet heaped on another mother lode of calories.

Reality Bites: The irony of working on a film that portrays the press as a pack of unscrupulous, camera-wielding vultures and then running into something of the same at the premiere lent a certain poignancy to the event.

Quoted: Costa-Gavras pointed out that the film "is not about print, but electronic media." (Uh, thanks.) Travolta generously allowed that "the media has always been good to me. But we're talking about news media versus entertainment media."

The news media reports what they see and it's interpreted."

Another View: Hoffman was willing to nibble at both of the hands that feed him. "I think the standards have been lowered in the media in the same way that they have been lowered in movies, and for the same reasons," he said. "The whole emphasis when they make a movie is to open the first weekend. Movies are measured by the top three at the box office. The audience gets up Monday morning and reads that. Twenty years ago, the audience would go see a movie because they want to go see it. Today, they'll see it's No. 5, not even making the top three, and they'll say, 'Jeez, I want to see that movie but it must not be any good because it's not in the top three.' And they don't realize that the top three pictures are there basically because the powers behind them spent more money advertising them on TV. . . . And in terms of your [news] business, it's all now to compete with the tabloids, because they're killing you guys."

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